1977

We had been parked out at the camping spot outside our town for almost a week with our Dad in charge. The summers usually consisted of them taking turns with their holidays, her one week, him the next, back and forth like that, usually culminating in 2 weeks all of us together at the end. This plan was likely made with the idea of constant supervision during the summer break, and also with the intent to minimize the need to pay someone to watch us.

We always looked forward to the weeks with Dad, as he never bothered or nagged us, and by 4 in the afternoons, it was doubtful he even remembered he had 2 kids out rambling through the wooded areas and down by the river. By that time, he was well into his cups, and either snoozing off his uninterrupted day-drunk, or listening to his Johnny Cash 8-tracks and hazily formulating supper ideas.  He was never the kind of drunk who forgot to eat, or skipped eating in order to leave more room for the rye.

All the successful professional alcoholics I have known during my life have always taken the time to eat. In their minds, it keeps them within the “normal” zone on the barometer of boozology. Dinner may be rock hard from warming in the oven, or burnt to a crisp from idling in the frying pan too long, or even served at 11 at night, but they made dinner, didn’t they?

My mother, the warden, usually kept a pretty close eye on my pops, for good reason. We loved him to death, but his irresponsibility scared her to death. He never said no to us, but always deferred to my mother if she was present, and just wanted us to be happy and free. One of my jobs was to do dishes and clean the kitchen up after dinner every night, but if it ran late, my friends would already be ringing the doorbell wanting me to go out with them. My dad would sneak down to the kitchen, and grab the towel or broom from me and whisper “go- go- be with your friends, I can finish this up for you-shhhhh.”

I am sure, looking back, that he had been doing that with me since I was a very young child. He was always so affectionate with me, always pinching my cheeks softly between his second and third fingers. Always brushing my hair out of my eyes when I was reading, and he would notice it falling forward. Always such affection and adoration from my Dad. It made me love him so much and want to “cover” for him with my mom.

I’m pretty sure that is how it started- my covering up for him and his negligence with us. My doing my damnedest to make sure anything she left for him to complete, was completed by me if he was too drunk to do it. Everything from subbing in and taking my brother for his haircuts, while my dad drank at the bar, to stealing his own wallet from him to ensure he came home with the amount of money for bills she had asked him to bring home. He was always thankful for my interventions and assistance, and loved me even more, if that was possible.

He had a pretty good system going. My mother told him what to do, or what she expected from him and he let me take care of all the pesky details and also the worry.

More time to drink.

The only phone out at the campground was by the little store- a payphone.

People didn’t need to be in constant contact back then, so it wasn’t strange to go the entire 5 day work week without talking to my mother. She knew where we were and unless we called her from the payphone, everything was assumed to be fine.

I was standing in line for a slushie with some of my friends when the man who ran the joint said to me ” Call home, kid.” I was confused, as i didn’t know he even knew who I was. I asked him if he was sure he had the right person, and he nodded, his smoke hanging off his bottom lip, and said ” yup- your mom described you perfectly, right down to the bathing suit. Call home.”

I left the line and walked toward the payphone, already feeling a twisting in my gut. I pulled a dime out of my sneaker (where all smart summer kids kept their change), and dropped it into the slot of the phone.

My mom answered immediately and told me my Uncle George had died and we needed to get home immediately.

Now, this is where this story takes a humorous turn of sorts, in spite of the spectre of death hanging over it.

I had two Uncle Georges.

One was married to my mom’s sister, and was my favourite man in the world after my Dad.

The second was married to my Mom’s best friend, my godmother.

I didn’t think to ask which one died before my mother hung up the phone.

So, off I ran to the tent trailer to tell my Dad that we had orders to get home as fast as we could, as George had died and my mom wanted us home.

As I approached the camp spot, I could hear the train whistles and Johnny Cash – Orange Blossom Special, and knew my mission might take a bad turn. The louder the music, the drunker he likely was – of that you could always be certain. I was still 4 camp spots away when i heard the music, and felt even sicker….slowed my running to a walk. I tried to calculate how many hours he had been left alone by us. It was about 4:30, and we had taken off to go swimming around 9. Even allowing him an hour for coffee, he had likely been smashing it hard since 10 A.M, secure in the thought that it was going to just be one more lazy, hazy day camping, and we wouldn’t need anything until at least 6 or 7, as we packed bologna sandwiches with us when we left.

I saw him sitting in his lawn chair, with his head slightly forward, nodding along a bit to his music. As I approached him from the trees, I could literally see him try to focus his eyes on who was walking toward him. His eyes were bleary-looking and he blinked a couple times before he smiled at me and said ” Hey shishhhhhowshh yer day going?”

I told him we had to go home and it was like it didn’t even register. Nothing.

Once again, I explained that “George” had died and that we were told to get home as soon as possible, and he looked up at me with a child’s eyes, and shook his head a bit, muttering, “can’t, can’t drive”.

We were 20 miles from home, with direct orders from the warden to get our asses home, there’s been a death, and he was sitting there, like an errant toddler, shaking his head back and forth and telling me “can’t.”

It took me about 4 minutes to assess what would be our worst case scenario – my little brother and myself dying in the car on the way home cus he was seeing double already, or dealing with my mother, who gave us a direct order.

I chose death for all of us, and quickly rounded up my brother, packed anything outside the trailer into the trailer, turned off Johnny, and threw water on the campfire he had been half-assed playing with all day. All while he sat in the lawn chair blearily watching me. He almost looked like he was pouting- sulky. Like I was also pouring water all over HIS party by making us leave.

I got my brother to help me drag our father to the station wagon on his wobbly legs and stuff him inside the driver’s door. I remember my brother giggling during all of it. He thought it was like a game- an adventure- something that plopped itself into a boring summer day that ran into all the other boring endless summer days. The idea of his sister “bossing” his dad around seemed to really amuse him a lot, in retrospect.

I got myself and my brother into the car and we sat there. Sat there for what seemed like years, waiting for him to focus- to come back to his senses- to open his eyes to the fact that  he was behind the wheel of his car, us waiting for him to turn the key in the ignition.

He didn’t move a muscle, just slumped back in his seat and started snoring quietly- he was sleeping. Passed out. Blotto.

I suddenly felt more anger than I had ever felt in my life up to that point. My chest felt like it was going to explode and blow my heart right out the windshield and into the trees beyond the car. My head hurt, my chest hurt, I was seeing stars.

I jerked my door open and ran around to his side of the car and opened the door. Then I started hitting him in the shoulders and chest and yelling at him to wake up. He jerked awake and looked so startled and then sad that his little angel, his little girl, his little co-conspirator was striking him and yelling at him.

I told him to shove over to the passenger side of the car and then grabbed my mom’s little pillow she kept in the back for when she was driving and put it on the driver’s seat.

I slid in and shut the door. With my brother’s help, I got the car started and adjusted the rear view mirror. He talked me through finding the lever to pull the seat forward and even helped by pushing with his little legs from the back seat. It was a good thing he had paid attention to how the car worked, as I never had. I must have been secure in my belief that there would always be an adult around to take care of that sort of thing.

In that way, my brother was much more of a survivor than I was. His eyes and ears never missed a thing, whereas I was always doing my best to not see or hear most of what was going on around me.

As I attempted backing out of the narrow parking spot, I nicked a corner of a tree. I remember twisting the wheel back and forth, as I didn’t understand how to move it to reverse in a different direction, so it took us some time to get the nose pointed in the direction we needed to be in. In fairness to my young self, I highly doubt after driving almost 40 years, I could reverse that big old countrysquire station wagon out of that narrow spot!

As we drove along the bumpy gravel road towards the exit, I remember panicking a bit about the directions, as I never paid any attention in a car. I had my nose in an Archie comic, waiting for the car to stop at my destination. Luckily, my brother knew where we needed to turn and how to get us out of the country and back to town.

I remember driving us, my dad snoring beside me in the passenger seat, my brother leaning into the front seat in the center, telling me when to turn left or right, when to slow down, where the “coppers” hid in the trees to nail the speeders. I told myself that if I saw any “coppers” I would just run us all to our deaths straight into the nearest tree, as that would be better than them showing up to embarrass my mother at our home. (The neighbours!!!!!)

Someone was watching over my brother and I that day and it most certainly was not either of our parents. After what seemed like forever, I turned that big old car into our driveway at home, took the keys out and threw them in my father’s lap.

My brother and I went into the house and met our mother in the kitchen, where she was waiting. I remember falling into her arms and sobbing. She believed it was from grief, I suppose. She never asked me why, just held me while I cried and shook.

She asked where my dad was, and I told her he was still  in the car, but that was all. I had already sworn my brother to secrecy on the way home, promising him all the money I had saved and also any candy I had stashed in my bedroom.

I don’t know if she ever went out to the car and figured out what had  happened.

More likely, he just woke up and came inside and nothing came of it, as there was a funeral to attend, and people coming and going, which gave her no time to question any of it, and he certainly wasn’t going to open that Pandora’s box on his own.

I remember when I finally found out which George it was that died, I felt very guilty as there was a sense of relief it wasn’t my favourite Uncle George. The guilt came because the George who DID die, had a daughter the same age as me, and was a drinker like my dad.

I remember feeling so confused about my anger towards my dad, all mixed up with a sudden fear that HE could die, too. It all became very real to me that people can die any day, from any number of ways.

Kids could wake up on a lazy summer Tuesday with a dad and by the time they went to bed at night, he could be gone.

Cold and dead and maybe the last thing his daughter said to him was “I hate you!”

Or perhaps she really let loose and uttered her first curse word directly at him…something like ” you fucking DRUNK, give me those fucking keys, RIGHT NOW!”

It could happen. ( It wouldn’t for a few more years, but not many.)

So better to just shove it deep down inside and forget about it.

I was 12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So Many Players You’d Think I Was a Boardgame

I am a piece of work and in my defence, I have always warned potential romantic partners of this fact.

Right in the beginning, actually.

First meeting.

” I can be a “bit” of a handful.”

Of course, the sociopaths ( I kid- a little) that are attracted to me just become more intrigued and grab on for dear life, usually.

I am the mistress of the game, I’m afraid.

I start like gang busters, providing you with advice and listening to your troubles and staying engaged and becoming your most trusted advisor/spiritualist/psychologist.

I prepare your most favourite meals, and remember all those little details you share with me about your preferences in clothing, television programs, music, and entertainment outings.

I could write tomes about your issues with your mother/father/siblings/ex-wife/children/boss/co-workers, and also provide reference material and perhaps footnotes at the end, like academic papers.

I start to take care of the little things for you like reminding you of bill payment deadlines, doing five years of back taxes for you by hand, arranging payment schedules for your student loans, and sometimes even arranging visitation for you with your children, if you have a difficult ex. She would rather deal with me than you, anyway- who wouldn’t?

I seem like the best thing that ever happened to you and you will tell me that over and over and over again, as you happily hand responsibility for all the boring minutia in your life over to my care.

We will carry on in this fashion for many years, until I suddenly wake up one day and realize that I am exhausted by the crushing weight of you and all your problems.

You will have long past forgotten to thank me for performing tasks, and will now take for granted that I am content and happy, due to the fact I don’t ask for anything and don’t complain.

This will carry on for approximately three years – this new phase.

I will catch you looking at me when you think I can’t see you- puzzlement all over your face at times.

You may start asking me what I am thinking about if I am quiet and I will respond with a laugh, ” oh nothing…you know me…just in my own little universe.”

Historically, around relationship years 12-18, I am coasting on my own cloud.

I begin withdrawing,  then dreaming, then planning on how best to extricate myself from you.

I can justify this by your bad treatment of me and how I am the one always giving but getting nothing in return.

Please note that I never once asked you or told you or even discussed in a serious way with you my own needs or where you were lacking.

I just assumed that you loved the same way I did, and that I would receive back automatically what I had given in the name of love.

I don’t and never have shared relationship problems with friends, so when it’s all said and done, I can tell those in my life whatever I want to as far as reasons for the breakup.

That is the game I play and although I am not in any way winning at it, until I change the rules of this game, I am afraid it will continue until I decide the time has come to forfeit my turn.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

 

 

 

Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite

It seemed to happen overnight for me.

One moment, I am practically invisible, just the way I liked it.

Being able to quietly and unobtrusively go about my business by day or night. Walking out in the world with my thoughts on things other than the chaotic house I resided in.

Suddenly, it all changed.

Outside, dirty faced boys say things to me I don’t even understand, using words that sound like a bad thing.

Inside, greasy, slippery grins from men who I have been instructed to call “Uncle” .

Uncles that have known my parents for years.  Friends.  Boyfriends of my Mother’s friends.

Uncles that always made me nervous; giving me that tickling feeling against my stomach and ribcage.

Being pushed towards them for the bedtime ritual.

“Go ahead. Give everyone a kiss and hug goodnight.”

Slithering accidental brushes of fingers, hands, arms, upon me.

Breath that reeks of tobacco and whiskey and hair that stinks of Brylcreem.

Big rough calloused hands patting your flannel covered bottom, just a little stray dragging of the nails or fingertips, on the sly. Hugs so tight I can’t breathe, while they measure, deduce, calculate the changes, the growth spurt.

Doing as I’m told and then vomiting as quietly as I can in the bathroom and wiping the wet sleeve of my kitten-patterned pyjamas all over my lips and chin and neck and cheeks with a sliver of soap.

Trying to scrub away the smell so that I can sleep that night.

Dreams of the day I am so big that I don’t have to let people I am scared of touch me.

An Old Man and his Story

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http:// https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/the-sandbox-writing-challenge-37-something-important/

He was admitted to the hospice on a spring day.
He came in on a stretcher grumbling and cursing at every jiggle the stretcher made on its journey to his final home.

Once the transfer team had him in the bed, I went into meet him with his chart and the reams of paperwork necessary in order to admit him.
After confirming his name and his birth date and asking about allergies, the question about his next-of-kin came up.
In a wheezy voice he muttered that there was no one. He had three daughters he hadn’t spoken to in years so I could leave those “ungrateful bitches” out of his affairs.
He hadn’t seen them in years since their mother’s death.  He informed me that he was a ward of the province and the Public Trustee would be in charge of his estate.

I thanked him for the information and welcomed him,  showing him his call bell and giving him the names of the care staff on duty.

He had end stage lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. He wasn’t expected to last more than a week with us.

When I arrived at work for my next shift, the pastoral care worker was in his room, sitting by his bed, holding his hand.
She motioned me in with her hand and whispered to me that he had become bewildered and combative, striking out at the care aids. He had sworn at them,  swinging his fists and bony arms, catching one by the hair, and screaming that she would do as she was told or pay dearly.
After he settled, pastoral care came and sat with him,  holding his hand with the lights low for hours.
Listening to him tell her his story, his successes, his failures and his pain.

Doing the job she was born to do, holding hands and praying for the souls of the almost-dead.
As his breathing grew more laboured, and the end grew near for him, she alone sat with him and prayed over him. 
Asked God forgive him his mortal sins and accept him into his loving arms  when his time came to cross over.

After he passed, she came to my desk with two cups of tea and told me to call the funeral home to pick him up.
She took a chair and told me of the things they discussed.

How he married his wife when she was fourteen.

How he went away to war when she was seventeen with two children and one more on the way.

How he came back angry and how that anger manifested into rage at  the smallest slight or perceived insult.

How his wife was stupid and asked for it.

How his daughters were stupid like their mother and asked for it too.

How his wife refused to submit to him after being beaten, so he turned that lust upon his eldest daughter at ten years of age.

How he threatened everyone with death or starvation if they didn’t do as he said.

How his younger daughters hid from him in the barn and how he would  beat their mother so they would return to the house and take “their damn turn”.

How he was the hardest working man in the whole county and how he was an elder in the little county church he attended his whole life.

How his daughters escaped one by one except for the youngest who never left. The one he assumed couldn’t survive without him, but likely stayed to take her mother’s “turns” once her mother was diagnosed with dementia.

How he was godly man who served his country and didn’t deserve such ungrateful daughters as he had.

And the chaplain held his hand, and prayed for his soul and told him Jesus died for our sins and his sins would surely be forgiven as all our sins are forgiven.

How he cried like a child when told he would be forgiven.

She left my desk and I turned on the little stained glass lamp we used to alert the staff and families that someone had recently passed.

I wrote his name on the little card and placed it in the lovely pewter holder in the base of the lamp so that the glow of the lamp shone on his name.

Then I called the funeral home to see how much longer it would be until they got that rotten son of a bitch’s carcass out of my beautiful hospice.

Undone

I read the prompt for this week’s writing challenge and thought of the minutia that is bouncing around in my head at all times, appointments to make, and repairs that need looking after but quite frankly, that sounded like way too much work for me today, so I have decided that what feels most undone in relation to my priorities is a rather scary conversation that I need to have at some point in the near future with my eldest son.

Having gown up in a pretty chaotic environment, as a Mother myself, I sheltered my boys from everything that could possibly hurt them. Not physical hurt- they were fine healthy boys and I knew they would survive the breaks and stitches and bumps and bruises like most kids do. I protected them from emotional hurt. From the fear of not having enough money, or food, or falling ill three days before pay day and how that could topple the whole house of cards over.

I protected them from all my unresolved hurts that came with me into adulthood and motherhood at a young age. I protected them from fears of family dying, and illnesses that strike innocent babies and parents who barely speak to each other but stay together 5 MORE years for the sake of the “children.”

I have two sons. The older is a lot like me in looks and temperament. He also seems to be showing signs of maybe having picked up a bit of the “family” illness. Signs that I am not positive about and quite honestly, don’t have the strength to deal with at this time. Things are going well for him in his life at this moment, great job, new love, involvement in the arts community he so loves. He has openly admitted that he is far better in the routine of a relationship, so I am going to put that other business…that worry..away for now.

He is my softer hearted boy. We are incredibly close and times when he has asked me as all eldest children do ” WHY are you so HARD on ME? WHY not HIM?” I respond back, “Because I know you will never cut me out of your life totally. I know I can have these moments with you and you will always be here for me. I know you won’t ever go away forever and never come back.”

My younger son is much more rational and much more reserved. He is the go-to whenever you have a hard time figuring out which direction to take. Whether it is literally a path in the road or which faucets to purchase for the kitchen sink. He is the son who knows where all the paper work is. The will. The insurance documents. My bank card. My PIN #. He doesn’t care for when things get emotionally messy. He will find the nearest exit usually at the first sign of a tear or emotional outburst.

Humorous aside: When I sat down with my kids and told them about their uncle’s prognosis, their exact first reactions were – Eldest son laid head down on kitchen table and cried silently. Younger son hit me with 303 questions in a rapid fire manner regarding second opinions, living wills, home care, caregiver support, medications, and end of life requests.

Now I have rambled on and on about the kids and haven’t gotten to the meat of the post here. I am all potatoes today, instead! You needed the background information, though, in order to understand why I need to have this conversation with my oldest son.

I know that in his heart, my eldest feels that I have let him down at points in his life or tried to step back from swimming in his pain with him. I know he has felt I am hypervigilent about silly matters such as how many beers in everyone is, or why forgetting to lock the door makes his Mom lose her shit at times, or why seemingly simple things like raising your loud male voice suddenly at something amazing on t.v. can make his Mom shake like a leaf for hours following.

I need to come clean with my son about some of my past and the way I was raised. I have white washed a lot in my stories, in order to shelter them from pain. I have put on a brave, in-control face their whole lives in order to make them feel safe and secure. But I know my eldest wonders at times why I react in ways I do to simple little things that he perceives as non-threatening.

I will feel undone until I talk to him about some pretty painful events that shaped his smiling but nervous Mom into who she is. And I am not worried that the love will not remain. I just don’t want him to feel pain because of me. I  want him to understand that I did what I could with the tools I had as a young mother and made some incredibly stupid choices along the way because I didn’t know any better and didn’t seek the help I very obviously needed back when I needed it most.

And if that helps him to understand me better, and to perhaps even assist him with his own life choices, then it won’t have been in vain.

And then it will be done.

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Prince # 1 – The Artist

 

 

Brothers and Other Addicts

kidsThe Early Years

When I’m thinking rationally with my adult hat on, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that my brother fell “victim” to the family “disease”.

That, of course, removes any blame from his otherwise pretty broad and fearless shoulders.

It also removes me quite nicely from the guilt of not catching it.

From my mother’s account, he was difficult right from the damn start. She was married for the second time and had produced a (gasp) daughter the first time at age 32, so had to basically take one more for the team and try one more time for the heir apparent at the age of 34.

After suffering through nine months of hell, losing weight and puking her guts and stomach lining out daily ( according to her), my brother, Mark, came sliding into the world. Weakly, thin, blue, and in most desperate need of an immediate blood transfusion. He was given new blood and a shit ton of drugs to just keep him with the living.

I have read enough to understand that the statistics regarding traumatic births and the need for resuscitation and desperate measures immediately following a birth can lead to addiction in later life. ( See? Adult hat appearing once again).

But I can tell you right now, that I believe in my heart that a whole lot of other things conspired within my brother’s universe to lead to his addiction and eventual death at the age of 47.

He was dealt a shitty hand, I think, and I am just now realizing with survivor-like guilt, that there was really never going to be a “happily ever after” in his lifetime.

I got the Aces and he got the 2’s, so to speak.

Strike 1: Our Dad was a drunk. A lovely guy, really…but a drunk. Back in the sixties, when we were born, boys and girls modelled themselves by their gender-alike parent. Lucky him.

Strike 2: Our Mother was already up to the eyeballs trying to be the responsible one, keeping a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and teaching us morals, all while trying to keep control of a stealthy drunken hubby. She was angry 99% of the time, slap-happy, and tired. But never too tired to slap and swing a belt at us, as she desperately tried to raise us into “good people”. Guess which parent we chose to spend the most time with? The predictable one – two moods…drunk(happy)…and…sober(quiet/staying out of my Mother’s way).

Strike 3: Everyone was just too busy trying to keep their OWN heads above water to pay much attention to what my curious little brother was up to. Sorry. Not sorry. I had my own shit to deal with and quicksand to manoeuvre!

So, fucked he was, right from the start.

And though I make light of it here, I am profoundly saddened to the core that all of us let him down in the ways we did.

Towards the end of his life,he once looked at me with an unbearable sadness in his eyes, and joked that we grew up in the same foxhole. We were survivors of the insanity that our home life was. He would sometimes be pissy and say that I “got a pass” from most of our Mom’s verbal and physical abuse. I just learned really early on that keeping your mouth shut and flying under the radar was the easy route through the blitzkrieg.

He never learned those lessons. Ever.

And yet he was her favourite;her baby: him with the loud, look-at-me voice so much like hers; him with the natural affinity for physical affection, so much like her. I guess he gave her the cuddles as a child and the love and affection as a boy and man that she never accepted from dear old fall down drunk Pops.

I have a couple vivid memories from my brother’s youth. One was him being mauled by a neighbour’s dog when he was around 4. I had once again been forced to take him with me (goddamnit!) out to play and headed right over my friend’s place to play with her dog. I swear, that little dog chased its own tail around, let us all play around with it for about a half an hour, and then just randomly snapped and went right at my brother’s face. Fifteen kids at least standing in a yard, and the dog zeros in on my brother’s face.

I remember the skin and the blood and the screaming…and I remember my brother running blindly away,trying to find his way down the block back home, blood streaming down his face..skin hanging…and me running even faster…AWAY from him and his pain and fear. A lesson for him on that day, and a reminder for me of how damaged we both were already at those tender ages.

That’s a little something called fright or flight instinct and I was obviously already well versed in that by the  age of 5 1/2.

The shit had hit the fan and I was getting the hell out of there before the hammer fell. I was supposed to be watching him. Keeping him safe. And I had failed. Abysmally.

He ended up with stitches all over his face. Came pretty close to losing an eye and most of his bottom lip, but he used it to his advantage for the rest of his life by telling people when asked about the scars ” You should see the other guy!” That instinct to turn tragedies into humor is something we both learned by osmosis.

A coping skill that served us both well.

The second memory digging at me today involves a harmless prank he and his gang of buddies pulled off when they were about nine. They had all stolen laundry soap from their homes and came up with the idea of pouring it into the fountain outside the hospital entrance in our fairly small town.

Looking back now, having raised two boys of my own, that is a pretty creatively, awesome prank. One I could have almost got on board with AS a Mom!

Unfortunately for my brother, our mother saw things much, much differently.

Being a small town, they got fingered and I.D.’d before they even arrived back home.

My mother met him, at the door, with a broom. She was swinging like Mickey Mantle before he was even all the way inside of the house. The shame he had brought on our family. The atrocious horror of the neighbours all knowing one of her kids had done such a reprehensible thing!

She actually broke the broom hitting him with it. I tried to stop her, first grabbing at the broom, then attempting to grab her swinging arm. Nothing stopped her, and my interfering actually ramped her up even more. She started jabbing at him with the broken end, practically using it like a spear. I caught a bit of that spear action to my side, just as she said in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t get the hell out of the way, I was gonna get some too.

Shots fired.

I retreated.

Left him to it.

Listened as he begged her to stop.

He wouldn’t cry.

I have so much respect for him today for not crying. I got accidentally speared once, not even a direct hit, and I was already bawling like a baby and can feel the hot tears sliding down my cheeks now,  just in the remembering.

Afterwards, we sat on the floor of my room, and listened to some music, keeping both it and our voices down, so as to not start her up again. I remember washing him up the best I could, and telling him he should have known the natural outcome of a stupid prank like that. Telling him he had to learn to not piss her off. Telling him it wasn’t really her fault… she was just worried/tired/mad/overwhelmed/broke…whatever she was in that moment where she lost her mind so totally and completely that she would beat and stab at a nine year old boy with a piece of broken wood.

Looking back,I think that was the moment in time that we made the mutual decision/pact to keep each other as safe and out of harm’s way as we possible could.

The love we couldn’t express verbally, would be shown in loyalty to each other.

Like brothers in arms.

Foxhole, indeed.